In the beginning of life in the realm of the Gods, before we walked among you and taught humankind the arts of riding the time of the river and living in the green of the Earth, before there were birds and running beasts and fishes, the sole power who ruled what you see was Ra, Lord of the Sun.
This is how you have always seen Him: sailing each night through the Land of Darkness, standing at the front of the boat, blazing each day from His arc in the sky, shedding His light, watching the river, yes, like a hawk, for any new move or shadow, any sign of change. You see the usual dignitaries on deck, the myth of universal order. The real story was that like the head of almost any organization, Lord Ra-- and all life, honor and praise be unto Him -- was almighty, but not quite all-happy. He was nervous about sharing His power, and seemed to feel that any other Neter who grew healthy and strong was out to cut His wings, or sink His boat, or work some other wrong.
I should know. I'm His younger brother. I had to fight at first for every breath, until I found more subtle ways to free my will. Fortunately for me, for all of us, Ra was mighty in vision but deliberate in action. He could be led into decisions that he might regret later by other minds that were less sweeping than his, but faster. This may sound strange. Can anything possibly be swifter than the rays of the sun? Yes. Only one thing. Thought is the only thing that is faster than light. My gift was quickness of mind.
My name is Thoth. I was the first royal official ever to be economical with the truth when talking with the King. Why did I have to do this, even at the risk that Ra would burn me black and hurl me all the way over the horizon, into the jaws of the Serpent? To tell you this, we have to start before the beginning, when there was no land or sky, when everything was in the coils of Apop, of Chaos.
This is one way we see the world: as an egg or a delicate ball held in the coils of a great black Snake who loves to eat. If we--that is, divine and human beings--live in truth, the Serpent stays under the line where the Sky meets the Earth. But if we violate truth, then Apop flexes his rage and the ground shakes. The head rises, the jaws are huge, the black breath a whirlwind. At the beginning, it was like this, everywhere, all the time. Then the ideas of stillness and order, of safety and light, began to form in the Creator's mind. He spoke the sound that first made peace, and pinned the Serpent where he cannot break the world as long as the Sun stays on his course through the Sky. The sound of Creation is:
Om! (Repeat) Ah! (Repeat) Ah Om! (Repeat, then pause) Atum!
Atum was the first active, shaping energy to emerge from Nun, the Abyss, the timeless mystery that could not issue anything from itself, but could only wait for the creative decision, the sound and the sweep of the hand to come from another. The moment Atum took action--and his name is like your word "atom" because he charged the dark broth of matter to take action as myriad forms of life--all things were defined and ready to be born. All the Neters, all things that move, all the sea and teeming green could now appear when their living space was ready.
The first divine idea to form in Atum's mind was Truth, the goddess who would take form as my wife. It still amazes me that Atum did not covet her for himself. I am eternally happy that Atum felt so perfectly complete that I got to be the first male ever to be amazed by his luck in love.